Fire Sprinklers Save Children's Museum

August 3, 2010

Automatic fire sprinklers extinguished a fire at the Madison Children's Museum early this morning. The sprinklers are credited with saving the building and its exhibits from major smoke and fire damage.

Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at 4:42 AM at 100 N. Hamilton Street. Upon their arrival, the crew of Engine 1 entered the building and began checking for the cause of the alarm. Near the rear of the building the firefighters found water running down the stairs. The water was coming from two sprinkler heads that had extinguished a fire in the fourth floor breakroom. Fire damage was limited to a small area of the breakroom.

Firefighters limited damage by turning off the fire sprinklers, placing improvised dams in doorways on the lower floors, and sweeping water into a concrete stair tower.

Fire damage is estimated at $50,000. Nobody was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

A coffee maker in the breakroom caused the fire, but the fire investigator has not determined why the appliance started on fire.

Firefighters encourage the installation of automatic fire sprinklers for the following reasons:

• Fire sprinklers save lives, reduce property loss and can even help cut homeowner insurance premiums.
• Sprinklers are highly effective because they react so quickly in a fire. They reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing people the time to evacuate the home.
• Home fire sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
• Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire. Up to 90 percent of fires are contained by the operation of just one sprinkler.
• If you have a fire in your home, the risk of dying is cut by about 80 percent with automatic fire sprinkler systems.
• In a home with sprinklers, the average property loss per fire is cut by one-half to two-thirds (compared to fires where sprinklers are not present.)

  • Eric Dahl, 608-279-7148